Understanding how Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, or any successful businessman overcame difficult situations is an important teaching tool for potential business leaders. It is a cornerstone of most MBA programmes.
Q&A: Professor Mohamed Khalifa heads up the Business Case Centre at the University of Wollongong and was one of the pioneers of Actions and Insights.
Last Updated: May 19, 2011
What is the book trying to achieve? It is the first book that address a very important knowledge gap that we have right now in the UAE. We donít have sufficient, rigorous, independent, credible information about the business environment. This book helps bridge that gap.
Why is that important? It makes us localise our knowledge and become indigenous. This region has become an important hub for the world, yet there is little business information so this is why this book is important.
Why has a book such as this not been published before? There is an evolution of education institutions in the UAE and right now many of them are going through a very important transition. The main focus of UAE universities in the past was teaching, or what we call knowledge dissemination. That is changing now. Universities are becoming more research oriented and looking at knowledge creation.
Who is the book aimed at? This will be used mainly for MBA students, but it can be used by undergraduates.
Many of the case studies are government owned companies. Was it hard to get them involved? It was a benefit that they are government-owned. We are now contacted by many organisations who want us to write more case studies.
Most of the cases present a problem or a challenge to address. Was it hard to get companies to admit these details? When companies acknowledge a problem then its already half the solution. When they reach that maturity level and say yes we had a challenge, yes we had a problem, but it is presented in a reasonable way, the readers will know that the company is serious about getting things right.
For years, graduates in Europe and the US have had access to countless case studies about the world's biggest and best businesses, but not so in the UAE - until two weeks ago.
That was when Actions and Insights was launched, a book published by the Academy of International Business - Middle East and North Africa in collaboration with the University of Wollongong in Dubai.
Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the Minister of Foreign Trade, demonstrated its importance to the Emirates by launching the book. Actions and Insights marks the first time a set of case studies about UAE companies has been published.
The book sheds light on some of the management problems that private and public-sector enterprises in the UAE have faced. Unfortunately, the solutions to the problems are not forthcoming in every case study. After all, how a company solves its problem is often the most interesting and important point.
Each case study poses questions to students, encouraging them to think about how they would overcome a particular challenge. But often no comparison is made between what a student has recommended and the action a company took.
In describing Jumeirah Group's bid to globally market its woman-only floor concept in Emirates Towers, the reader is never really sure how the company proceeded.
However, there are some genuine learning curves. TMH, a brand consultancy, goes into some detail on its strategy and planning to bid for the Womad Festival last year and Etihad Airways provides a detailed rundownn on its Emiratisation strategy.
Top 5: Case studies included in Actions and Insights
1 Jumeirah Group: Marketing.
2 Eithad Airways: Contributing to the UAE vision through Emiratisation
3 Al Ain Dairy: Market expansion.
4 UAE Exchange Centre: Business level strategies.
5 The UAE Islamic Bank: Finance and Accounting
The studies are valuable tools in understanding how the business world has developed here.
The Quote: "Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana." Bill Gates, the co-founder and chairman of Microsoft